I read something by Sheila Walsh (Women of Faith speaker) this morning that jolted me awake.
I was still lying in bed, aware of the sound of the baby stirring in the monitor, but not really cognizant enough yet to act on it. It was going take more than just a couple of “I’m awake!” wimpers from #3’s room to stir me. We’d already been up together for some quality bonding time from about 4:00- 6:00. At 8:00, I was waiting for the full-on wails and a Mack truck to lift my big bottom and get it moving. I blame it on my pillows, y’all. Oh, be still my heart… my pillows. Just the right fluff, 2 semi-flat ones (not too fluffy, not too stiff) stacked up under my head, one REALLY fluffy one beside me on the outside because even though I’m 34-years-old, the edge of the bed still freaks me out a little in the middle of the night. Now that I found a replacement housekeeper, fresh-smelling pillow cases hold me hostage. Everything was so peaceful in that groggy, don’t-make-me-open-my-eyes-yet bliss that preceded the morning routine.
So I can only blame myself for the abrupt end to such a peaceful morning start. But what can I say? My phone needed me to check it. Most days, I do a quick scroll before I get out of bed. Glance at facebook and Instagram; check email. And boo-yah! Today I landed a free e-download! Daily Devotions for Women: 10 days of devotions by Women of Faith. Um yeah. I’ve got a few seconds to start my day by dwelling on words that I can count on to inspire me and teach me a biblical truth.
Because I like to peruse my books before I start reading them, I usually stop on some page in the middle that intrigues me and read a little there. Hopefully I force myself to a stopping place before the end so I can back up and start again at the beginning like normal readers probably do. Today, the page that caught my eye was titled “Never Off Duty.” Now, that got my attention.
I began reading this devotion by Walsh with the thought, “Finally! Someone who understands me!” I felt excited about the refreshing words that would remind me I’m not the only one who always feels “on.” It’s the kind of stuff that makes you have love affairs with your pillows and drives the average mom, who is head-over-heels in love with her children, to wait for those darlings to scream and wail from the crib before she admits it’s probably time to go get them up.
Not that I’ve done that or anything.
Not that I did that this morning.
But do you know what?
That Walsh lady did not have one single uplifting comment for me! Her tone was more like the one we’ve adopted on the campus where I teach–“Suck it up, Buttercup!”
Now, that got my attention.
But she said it best,
“It’s easy to be loving and kind for twenty-four hours to thousands of complete strangers knowing that I’ll fly home shortly. But my lifelong commitment is to my husband.”
Christ was never “off duty.” Even when he went alone to pray, to catch a few minutes rest, he welcomed interruptions and used them to teach. We’re called to love, love, love, and never stop loving because Christ loved, loved, loved, and thank goodness never stops loving. It’s easy to come home and shut down after the kids are in bed and the nightly chores are done. It may be 8 or 9:00 (or later if there’s school work to do for us teachers), but heck, the prospect of “turning off” is what keeps me going many nights so I can make it to 8:00.
Now, my husband is a coach. So I can afford the luxury of “turning off” most nights, simply because he isn’t home to need my attention. But Walsh made me realize I’ve fallen into a dangerous trap, because I’ve let “off” become my nightly habit. When I want to be, I am EXTREMELY committed. ha!
Wives of coaches, you understand, don’t you? When Coach is gone more than he’s home, you naturally develop your own way of doing things. And darn it if he doesn’t come home on Saturday night and you feel like your whole routine is smashed to pieces even though you’ve been pining for him to come home since Monday night!
Even if my husband isn’t home often, when he is home, Christ commands that I love him. Love on him. Make him feel loved. Open the lines of communication again. Pray over him and with him.
It starts with prayer.
Lord, I want to love and to give like you loved and gave.
Lord, give me what I need for right now.
For me, communication is also key.
It’s not fair to Brad that the first time he’s alerted to my problems is when I’ve escalated to panic and rage mode. Instead of blowing up on him the first night he’s able to spend time with me, or worse ignoring him because isolation is easier than arguing, I can be ready to love him. Hopefully by then, we’ve had some quick, casual conversations throughout the week and if there is a problem simmering below the surface, he’s been made aware of it. During those precious times we’re together, we can then focus on loving each other.
Not to say that a well-timed and well-meaning argument isn’t necessary from time to time. A family friend of ours answered her phone one afternoon to hear her neighbor from across the street on the line: “Can you come over and watch the kids for a few minutes? M* and I need to step outside and yell at each other.”
Lastly, I may just have to eat my own words and suck it up, buttercup.
If I’m doing everything else: praying, communicating, finding ways to take care of my own needs (MOMS, it’s okay to make yourself a priority every now and then!), then sometimes extending love to others is just sheer sacrifice. We do it because it’s good for our relationships, but mostly it’s good for our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
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Frequently, I wish there was just one more hour in the day. Work and laundry and backpacks and lunches and bottles never end. The to-do list will never be complete, so I’m glad I’ve accepted that as a fact rather than a defeat. Because when it all comes down to it, if I were finally granted a 25th hour like I’ve always wished, I probably wouldn’t try to get another thing marked off the list anyway. I’d focus on loving… loving that tall drink of water I married 11 years ago and those three boys who rarely let me “off duty.”